Zee Group launches two motion picture production banners


    MUMBAI: Subhash Chandra’s Zee Group is paving way for a re-entry into the motion picture production business. Zee had entered the film production business with the successful Gadar – Ek Prem Katha in 2001. It also released a 2D animation film Bhagmati in 2005, which didn’t fare well at the box office.
    Now, the company has launched two new banners – Zee Limelight and Zee Motion Pictures to resurrect the motion picture business.
    Speaking exclusively to Businessofcinema.com, Zee Motion Pictures director production division Deepak Sharma says, "The differentiation factor between the two banners is that while Zee Limelight will focus more on subject based films, which will be budgeted at Rs 5 crores or less; Zee Motion Pictures will produce big budget films."
    "We are not saying that the star cast is not important and that the bigger films that will be made under Zee Motion Pictures will not be subject based but these films can be satire, educational, true-life stories, comedies, etc. Movies under Zee Limelight will be made on a modest budget of Rs 5 crores or less," he adds.
    The company has a slate of 23 – 24 movies collectively lined up under both banners. The films will start rolling from April onwards.
    Zee has signed up directors for multiple films under Zee Motion Pictures. These include Anil Sharma (three films), Guddu Dhanoa (three films), Samir Karnik (two films), Tigmanshu Dhulia (two films) and Satish Kaushik and David Dhawan (one film each).
    Additionally, apart from the regular Bollywood fare, Zee is also planning an animation film, which will be directed by Ashu Trikha. It is being written by Sanjay Chauhan. "We have not yet decided on the company, which will be handling the animation for the film. The movie is still in its scripting stage," Sharma says.
    Pritam Khare, who was an associate of Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Devdas, has also been signed on to direct three films. The first of these will be a period film, which will be the debut vehicle of Shatrughan Sinha’s son Kush Sinha. The film is titled The Thugs and is based on the book Confessions of a Thug, which was written in 1840.
    Dhulia’s film with Zee will also be a period film called Begum, which is inspired by Begum Sumro. On the other hand, Dhanoa’s film is titled Handome Four. Amber Nath, who was an associate of Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Black and Saawariya, will also be directing three films for Zee.
    "These films under Zee Motion Pictures are all big films. The budget of these films will be upwards of Rs 15 crores," informs Sharma.
    On the other hand, the first film under Zee Limelight is titled Oh My God, which is currently on floors. It stars Vinay Pathak, Divya Dutta and Saurabh Shukla and has been directed by Saurabh Srivastav. Another film under this banner is Kill Chabbra, which has Sanjay Suri and Gul Panag in its cast.
    On being queried about the company’s decision to re-enter film production, Sharma says, "We tasted immense success with Gadar some years back. However, at that point in time, we did not have a distribution system in place. Now, with the mother company ZEEL having a presence in countries like the US, UK, South Africa, Hong Kong and Dubai; we will be identifying people for the distribution business in these places. So in the overseas territory, we will be having at least nine – 10 offices and hence our reach will be much larger. We also have a channel support, which other film production companies don’t."
    Moreover, the Zee Group now also has its own exhibition chain under the brand name Fun Cinemas in India. "This will also help us in a big way in the production business," he adds.
    Going forward, plans are to churn out eight – 10 movies a year. "We want to target at least 12 films a year. Our aim is to have one release a month from 2009 onwards," says Sharma.